Agricultural Production

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At present, global agriculture uses about 2500 species of cultivated plants and a few hundred species of cultivated animals, but only several hundred cultivated species are prevalent. The dominant groups of cultivated plant species are cereals (wheat, barley, rye, rice, corn, sorghum, etc.), pulses, roots and tubers (potatoes, yam, etc.), fruits, and vegetables. The dominant cultivated animal species are cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, equines, buffaloes, camels, chickens, and ducks.

The productivity of agriculture is the main index of its intensity: the increase in agricultural input is accompanied by the rise in agricultural output. The yield of cereals gains its maximum in the USA (5.2 tha- ) and in Western Europe (5-7 tha- ; in Belgium, 8.4 tha- ) and its minimum, in Africa (Botswana: 0.2 t/ha); North America, Middle East, and North Africa produce high yields of roots and tubers (Table 8).

Asia is the greatest producer of agricultural products: it gives about 40-45% of the global agricultural output (Table 9; Figure 4). Two countries with large population - China and India - are the main 'driving forces' of agricultural development in Asia. Only two regions can be compared to Asia: Europe (15-20% of the global agricultural output) and North America (10-15% of the global output, except for roots and tubers). Sub-Saharan Africa produces 15% of pulses and 25% of roots and tubers.

In the second half of the twentieth century, world agricultural production has been growing steadily, but with dissimilar rates in different regions. Thus, from

Table 8 The productivity of main cultivated plants (t ha 1, 2003)

Asia (excl. Middle East and Sub-Saharan

Middle East) Europe North Africa Africa N. America S. America Oceania World

Roots and 16.5 15.B 22.3 B.1 36.3 13.4 12.9 13.1 tubers

Table 9 Agricultural production (10001, 2003)

Asia (excl. Middle East)


Middle East and North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

N. America S. America Oceania World

Cereals 927 074

Pulses 23137

Roots and 283 662


Meat 93 967

407 7B1 7716 134101

BB 639 3428 16 076

52410 8427

90082 8413 170089


367571 113259 4344 3879

25 921 47 256

42 607


2123 3598


2070963 55 679 687193

246 826



Roots and tubers

° Middle East and North Africa

□ Sub-Saharan Africa ° North America

□ South America

Roots and tubers





Figure 4 Agricultural production in different regions (percent of the world production, 2003).

1961 to 2003, the world yield of cereals increased by 237%. In Oceania and South America, this increase was higher (407% and 339%, respectively). In Europe, it was lower (154%). In Africa, North America, and Asia, it was near the average value (277%, 227%, and 279%, respectively). Moreover, in Europe and North America, the production of cereals ceased to rise since the mid-1980s (Figure 5).

However, the huge production does not mean sufficient consumption. Because of different populations and different food allowances, the individual level of food consumption (in calories) does not coincide with agricultural production in the particular regions. The largest consumption is in North America and Europe (134% and 120% from the average world value), and the lowest consumption is in Asia and Africa (95% and 81%)

(Table 10). Many countries can keep the food consumption at a necessary level only at the expense of import.

At present, the world market of agricultural products is the global system. Agricultural products move not only between neighboring countries but from continent to continent. The world market of cereals is the biggest (about $40 billion). The main exporters of cereals are the USA (85 Mt), France (30 Mt), Argentina (20 Mt), and Australia (20 Mt), and the main importers are Japan (26 Mt), Mexico (15 Mt), South Korea (13 Mt), China (10 Mt), and Egypt (10 Mt). All these countries are found in different parts of the world. Some countries specialize in one or two main kinds of export products and supply the whole world with them. For example, Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam are the largest exporters of coffee, while Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Honduras are the largest exporters of bananas.


Figure 5 Production of cereals in different regions of the world since 1961.


Figure 5 Production of cereals in different regions of the world since 1961.

Table 10 Calorie supply per capita in different regions of the world (2003)

Asia (excl. Middle East and Sub-Saharan

Middle East) Europe North Africa Africa N. America S. America Oceania World

Calorie supply 2681.8 3331.4 3109.8 2262.2 3755.8 2850.9 3074.3 2804.4

per capita

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